Societe Generale is passionate about sport. Since the group was created in 1864, the ties between the company and sport have grown tighter, offering a wealth of shared experience and exchanges between the two worlds.
Jean Bouin is an emblematic figure of this shared history. He was an athlete who won several Olympic medals and worked at the bank before falling on the battlefield during World War I. The stadium where the Stade Français CASG rugby club plays was named in his honour. The club was formed from the merger of Stade Français with the Club Athlétique des Sports Généraux (CASG), originally known as the Club Athlétique de la Société Générale, which was founded in 1903. CASG is a testament to Societe Generale's enduring commitment to the practice of sport.
Societe Generale's strategy has adapted to the significant changes in the sporting world but the bank's commitment has remained steadfast. Today, Societe Generale Group lends its support to the development and practice of sport in three different areas: rugby, golf and disabled sports. This multi-sport strategy has paid off, particularly with the decision to recognise Rugby Sevens and Golf as Olympic sports beginning with the 2016 games. Alongside the Paralympic Games, this new showcase will offer Societe Generale new challenges and significant opportunities.
Societe Generale and rugby: more than 25 years of shared history
Societe Generale's commitment to the sport began with the French rugby union championship. Starting in the 1984-1985 season, Societe Generale and the French Rugby Federation created a brand-new event: a game between the losers of the semi-finals of the French championship tournament. This match was held at Jean Bouin stadium as a prelude to the final championship match held at the nearby Parc des Princes. For eleven years, the Challenge Jean Bouin - Trophée Société Générale crowned the third-best team in France every season. This initial joint effort with the French Rugby Federation was followed by a partnership agreement that was signed in 1987.
Since 1987, which was also the year Societe Generale was privatised, its involvement with rugby has increased considerably, matching the company’s own development. Societe Generale has become a major international group but has remained a loyal partner with French rugby at all levels ranging from local rugby (featured at over 450 amateur clubs), professional teams and the national team. Through its subsidiaries, the group also supports rugby in other parts of the world from Luxembourg to China and from Senegal to Serbia. Since 2007 Societe Generale has been a Worldwide Partner of the Rugby World Cup, which is held every four years. The global event enables the 200 member countries of the International Rugby Board to organise and promote the sport in their own countries. Societe Generale has supported Rugby Sevens since 2001 and now that it has become an Olympic sport (starting in 2016) the Group will be able to raise awareness of the sport with new audiences, including students.
Today, Societe Generale’s commitment to rugby is reflected in its slogan "Nothing is as strong as team spirit" and the Group can legitimately claim to be a worthy partner for all rugby lovers.
Businesses involved in the golf community
As the leading individual sport in the world, golf became increasingly important for Societe Generale in the 1990s, partly because of its ability to complement rugby, where the number of participants has not kept up with the exploding number of spectators.
Societe Generale got involved with the golf world through a partnership with the French Golf Federation in 2001, which gave the bank access to all licenced players in France. Because we believe everyone should be able to play sport, Societe Generale also partnered with Handigolf, the disabled golf association, in order to make golf more available to persons with disabilities. What is unique about golf is that the same rules apply to everyone regardless of disability.
To support its international growth, Societe Generale's brands - including Private Banking, Retail Banking and Corporate and Investment Banking – are becoming increasingly visible at golf venues. In 2008, the group supported this strategy by partnering with what is now the lone major tournament in continental Europe: the Evian Championship. The tournament, which is an important stop on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour, offers a comprehensive and broad platform from which each brand can achieve its objectives.
Disabled sports: let's move beyond handicaps
Societe Generale's involvement in disabled sports began in 2002 when it sponsored the Athletics World Championships held in France. This first effort also led to a partnership agreement with the French Disabled Sports Federation (FFH – Fédération Française Handisport), and shortly thereafter with the French Adaptive Sports Federation (FFSA - Fédération Française du Sport Adapté).
Through the sports it supports, including rugby (through the Ferrasse Foundation and the Amicale du Tournoi des 6 Nations rugby organisation) and golf (through the Handigolf association) or more generally through the Paralympics movement, Societe Generale finds shared values in disabled sports: personal excellence, professionalism and solidarity.